Ira Hamilton Hayes (January 12, 1923 – January 24, 1955) was a member of the Gila River Indian Community who enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve in 1942, and later fought in the Bougainville and Iwo Jima campaigns in the Pacific War. He was celebrated as one of the six flag raisers immortalized in the iconic photograph Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima by photographer Joe Rosenthal, taken on Mount Suribachi on February 23, 1945. (Photo right: Ira Hayes points to himself in the famous flag-raising photo.)
On January 12, 2023, the GRIC celebrated the Ira Hayes Centennial with ceremonial speeches by Ira Hayes VFW Post 84 leaders, and drums and dances by students from St. Peters School. JACL-AZ President Bill Staples, Jr. attended the celebration to support the GRIC in honoring the legacy of Ira Hayes, and to honor the memory of Mas Inoshita, long-time JACL-AZ leader and respected member of the Ira Hayes Post 84. Below are photos from the celebration at Veterans Memorial Park in Sacaton, AZ.
Statue of Ira Hayes and his birthday banner
Students and community members — including Major Urban Gif in the red hat — participate in a ceremonial dance;
Member of Ira Hayes Post 84 proudly wears his uniform jacket
Students walk past the Mas Inoshita Memorial to the Ira Hayes Celebration
Historic photo of JACL-AZ leader Mas Inoshita in his VFW Uniform, circa 2009.